How does a company move from a phase where innovation is more about awareness or curiosity to a phase where innovation is a capability that becomes a key element in the overall strategy?
This is a big innovation leap that many corporate innovators struggle with. Here you get some of my suggestions on what you can do:
• The full picture: Taking the big innovation leap is not easy and you have to deal with lots of different issues and challenges. The first thing to do is to get an overview of these issues. Then, you can start prioritizing them and decide whether to go through them in a parallel or sequential order. Try to put the many issues into no more than 6-8 categories in order to make it manageable.
• Talk versus action: You need to strike the right balance between talk and action. Yes, you need to develop a strategy, but once the foundation for this strategy is in place you need to allow for adjustments as you get things done and experiement with different approaches. Some people have difficulties doing this as a dual process and if this applies to you, then admit it and team up with people who can complement you.
• Education: A key problem when overcoming this gap is the lack of knowledge on how innovation really happens within an organization. Unfortunately, this often starts with the top. You need to find ways to educate your executives in order to make them better understand why you are doing the things you are doing.
This is a tough challenge as most executives are not used to listen, but you can try by showing them examples on how their peers (other executives) tackled similar situations. Later on, you will also have to educate employees and especially middle managers, who often hinders innovation just by doing their job.
• Common language: What is innovation? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to your colleagues? What does it mean to your internal and external stakeholders? You will not be able to get everyone aligned on your definition of innovation, but as you move forward with your innovation efforts, you should at least make it clear to others what it means to you and what you want to achieve. Your company needs a common language and this starts with you and your team.
• Communicate: Too often, corporate innovation units forget that if they want to drive change in an organization not alone get external partners involved, they need to communicate frequently and clearly.
Are you up for a discussion? You have got my starters. Now, you can share what you think of this and provide your views on what corporate innovators should do when they need to make this big innovation leap.